Farm loans driving farmers towards suicide. Government needs to look for alternatives

Farm loans driving farmers towards suicide. Government needs to look for alternatives
Highlights

Between the time period of April 2013 and November 2017, 3,515 farmers in the state have committed suicide. Farm loan is just one of the reason and there are many other factors which are forcefully driving them to it.

Between the time period of April 2013 and November 2017, 3,515 farmers in the state have committed suicide. Farm loan is just one of the reason and there are many other factors which are forcefully driving them to it. Only if we understand their real problems we will be able to address them and waiving off the farm loans is not the real solution.

Farmers are suffering due to a decline in productivity over a period of time as a result of fragmented fields, growing salinity of agricultural land, depleting ground water levels, water shortage, changes in environment, untimely rains, spurious pesticides and poor quality seeds. And also when the crop is ready, the government fails to announce the minimum support price, which takes away the farmers’ plight.

We need to address these issues by recharging the groundwater, by widely introducing watershed programmes and so on to improve the productivity of farmers.

Also, writing off farm loans to the tune of Rs 53,000 crore will drastically reduce the allocations for the poor and vulnerable. The 2018-19 budget estimates the revenue receipts of 1,62,764 crore and expenditure on social services of Rs 64,193 crore. If Rs 53,000 crore is allocated for the waiver of farm loans, it amounts to one- third of the state’s total income, which will have an huge impact on its expenditure on social services.

So it might be better to only waive off the interest amount on the loans and retain the principal. The other alternative could be waiving off only loans taken by small and marginal farmers and that too in installments spread over a few years until 2021.

And to mop up some additional revenue , the state could hike up the taxes on liquor and cigarettes as this will not create much protest. Currently, the total taxes collected in the state stands at Rs 1,03,444 crore.

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